Thursday, February 26, 2009

What Are Fantasies Made Of?

This afternoon at Target, I cruised by the category romance lines ... and an overriding theme in the titles hit me upside the head.

Somehow, in this post-feminist world, it looks like we've become obsessed with wealthy heroes. And this trend didn't start with the recession -- it's been around for a while. Maybe it never went away?

But on the racks in front of me, I counted two tycoons, two princes, three millionaires, four billionaires and one C.O.O. (I'm not sure what C.O.O. stands for, but I bet he's rich.)

Holy E.R.A., Batman! What's happened to us?

I know we've come a long way, baby. And I'm sure for every one of those rich, powerful men, there's a strong heroine who's going to stand her ground and teach him a thing or two, rather than crumpling in front of his ruthless Italian loafers.

I know Gloria Steinem didn't have all the answers. Somehow we've reached a place where the two-income household has become the rule rather than the exception -- not always by choice, but often by financial necessity. Maybe that's what's got those rich dudes looking so good.

And I know these billionaires have their own set of issues to work out. A lot of 'em are pretty lovable guys. But in a pinch, he's the kind of guy who whips out the plastic and treats our heroine to a decadent shopping spree, a la Pretty Woman. (And how I love the heroine who says no thanks ... except for maybe that one really nice pair of shoes for her fatherless child.)

I KNOW it's all fantasy. But are those fantasies getting a wee bit greedy? Or do I just think small?

After all, I'm the type who tends to pick up the stories about PTA moms and single dads. If you want to talk fantasy, I'd be more likely to go for titles like
The Bride Paid Off Her Car. Or, based on a recent plight, The Sexy Mechanic Who Fixed Her Engine For Free. Heck, I'm happy with The Dad Who Loved Movies. And while most of us would probably back away slowly from The Sensitive Accountant Who Made Tea, I might give him a shot. Especially if I was already on the couch with my feet up.

Of course it's all entertainment, and we surely don't need to apologize for our fantasies. But I'm curious. Am I the one who's out of step? Are rich heroes a hot-button for you?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Home Sweet Home

My friend Steph, who strolls her home beaches of Florida for writing inspiration, was wondering how my own High Desert might compare.

Well ... I'm afraid the desert makes for prickly strolling. Plus, it's hot in the summer, and it can be cold and crabby in the winter. In short, the rough beauty of our area might best be enjoyed from behind a climate-controlled car window. But I did find this, taken when we were shooting photos for one of my husband's CDs.

Those are Joshua trees, by the way. They grow in only two parts of the world: the Mojave Desert and Israel.

So, yes, beauty is where you find it. Although if you tried to find a place in this picture to sit down and take it in, you'd probably end up saying OW!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Puppy Love Vs. Kitty Love

Last night while I sat on the couch, one of my dogs curled up on the floor and rested his head on my foot. It seemed like a nice, warm gesture of affection.

This morning, I spotted an article online: "Do Our Pets Really Love Us?"

Oh, dear. Now I have to wonder whether my animals are sincere?

Fortunately, the article has good news. Experts believe that dogs and cats are capable of true affection, and not just because we feed them. The author points out, for example, that the presence or touch of a loved one has been shown to reduce pets' heart rates, a sign of bonding. It goes on to cite the story of a dog who mourned for an owner who passed away, waiting by his master's grave year after year.

Here at home, on a less dramatic note, I often come out of the bathroom to find one or two dogs waiting for me in the hallway. If that's not love, at least it's a sincere desire for companionship.

But I'm getting more dubious about my cat.

The article suggests that, as signs of affection, a cat may "become slightly depressed when you leave, and greet you enthusiastically upon your return." What? And get up from her nap? She may also "send subtle cat signals of affection to you throughout the day ... staring at you adoringly, then squinting or slowly closing her eyes." Uh ... can't say I remember seeing her do that.

One thing I'll say for Tallulah: She's a lap cat. With a vengeance. The day we brought her home, she followed me around constantly, meowing. At first I thought she was just confused about her new surroundings. But whenever I sat down, she'd promptly settle on my lap. Then she was happy.

Well, it never stopped. When Tallulah wants a lap, she wants it NOW, and in no uncertain terms. She also loves to nap with me ... but she won't lie closer to my face than waist-level. Personal space issues? Fear of intimacy? Frankly, I'm beginning to suspect that for Tallulah, it's less about companionship and more about comfort. With a little bit of body heat thrown in.

Or, as my husband put it, "If you keeled over and died, she'd come over and lie on you until your body cooled."

Now, THAT's love ... kitty style.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I read a blog entry today that's gotten a lot of fur flying. Seems that Stephen King, a bestselling horror writer since the 1970s, doesn't think too highly of Stephenie Meyer, author of the TWILIGHT series.

Let the fur-flying begin.

To take the remark within its context, you can check out The Who's News Blog by Lorrie Lynch. But basically, the interviewer asked if King thought his success had paved the way for writers like Meyer and HARRY POTTER author J.K. Rowling. In his answer, King managed to volunteer his opinion of the two authors: "The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good."

The blog entry is drawing hundreds of posts taking sides, pro-King vs. pro-Meyer. (Please, let's don't start that here!) King goes on to assess the talents of such writers as Erle Stanley Gardner and James Patterson ("terrible"), Jodi Picoult ("terrific") and fellow horror writer Dean Koontz -- "who can write like hell. And then sometimes he's just awful. It varies."

My point here isn't to take sides in the battle, though I will agree that J.K. Rowling is excellent. I also believe King is a fine writer himself. (I haven't read Stephenie Meyer yet, so I'm safely in the neutral camp there.) I do find it ironic for King to evaluate other writers in such black-and-white terms, when he's so often been dismissed by critics himself over the years.

But what I think King may have meant to say, and didn't quite get around to saying, is that there's a difference between good writing and good storytelling. To quote him in Lorrie Lynch's blog once more: "People are attracted by the stories, by the pace."


If a book tells a story that speaks to the readers, it's doing its job. The subtleties of language and style can add a lot of richness – but without a story, all those efforts would be hollow. King knows this. It's what's kept him on the bestseller lists for over thirty years.

Could he have been less blunt in his opinions on other authors? Well, I say yes. But fortunately, there's a world full of books out there, for all of us to read and enjoy and make up our own minds about. More power to Stephenie Meyer for getting more teens to pick up some of those books … and I think King would agree with that, too.